Power Outages Linger in Texas After Deadly Ice Storm
Story Code : 1039420
At least seven deaths in Texas have been attributed to the storm, which began on Monday, according to The Associated Press. On Tuesday, the police in Arlington said on Facebook that one person had died in a rollover accident on Interstate 20. The conditions also led to one death in a crash that involved 10 vehicles, according to the Austin Fire Department. A Travis County sheriff’s deputy was struck by an 18-wheel truck and was pinned beneath one its tires after attempting to help the driver of a disabled truck. He is expected to survive.
In Payne County, Okla., a 45-year-old man died in a crash on Thursday morning after he lost control of his vehicle on an icy roadway, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said.
In Benton County, Ark., a man lost control of a truck on icy roads and died in a crash on Monday morning, according to the Arkansas Department of Public Safety.
Portions of the Southern Plains and the Southeast began to thaw on Thursday as temperatures rose above freezing, but slushy roadways and widespread power outages remained.
By 3 p.m. Thursday, more than 337,000 customers in Texas were still without electricity, according to PowerOutage.us, which aggregates data from utilities across the country. Travis County, which encompasses much of the Austin metropolitan area, was among the areas most affected by the outages, with more than 146,000 customers without power.
Austin Energy, which powers parts of Travis County, said on Wednesday that some customers could be without power for up to 24 hours. But Mayor Kirk Watson of Austin said at a news conference on Thursday that it could take until late Friday for crews to restore power to much of the area.
“It’s an understatement to say it’s been a challenging three days,” Watson said.
Unlike February 2021, when a winter storm pushed the power grid in Texas to the brink of collapse, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said in an update on Thursday that the state’s power grid had “maintained ample supply” this week. Most of the outages this week were the result of fallen trees and downed power lines, Abbott said.
The winter storm also led to power outages in Arkansas, where more than 69,000 customers were without power on Thursday, according to PowerOutage.us. Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared a state of emergency in Arkansas earlier this week as the storm began.
Air travel disruptions improved on Thursday. More than 700 flights within, into or out of the United States, were canceled, including more than 300 flights at airports in Dallas and Austin, according to FlightAware, a flight-tracking company.
The number of canceled flights on Thursday was an improvement over Wednesday, when more than 2,300 flights were canceled, including more than 1,000 flights grounded at airports in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Houston.
Freezing rain or sleet in Texas was expected to change to rain on Thursday night as temperatures rise above freezing, according to the National Weather Service. Slick roadways could refreeze overnight, but temperatures were expected to rise into the 40s on Friday, allowing for “the widespread thaw that we have all been waiting for,” the Weather Service in Fort Worth said in an update.
Schools in Dallas and Austin remained closed on Thursday, as did the Dallas Zoo. After a game against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, the Detroit Pistons were stranded, unable to fly back to Detroit because of the weather, the N.B.A. said. A game scheduled for Wednesday night between the Pistons and the Washington Wizards had been postponed.
In parts of North Texas, enough ice had accumulated for Ashley Cain, an Olympian figure skater, to take to streets on her ice skates on Wednesday. Cain posted a video of herself on Instagram that captured her twirling on ice-covered street in the Dallas area.
In Memphis, the winter weather on Wednesday delayed the start of the funeral for Tyre Nichols, the African-American man who died last month after being beaten by police officers. Originally scheduled for the morning, the funeral, which Vice President Kamala Harris attended, took place in the afternoon.
This winter has brought a mixed bag of weather to large swaths of the South. Last week, a tornado tore through communities southeast of Houston, destroying a senior assisted-living center and causing other damage. In Louisiana, three people were hospitalized with injuries after storms damaged mobile homes northwest of Baton Rouge. Earlier this month, at least eight people were killed after a string of severe storms and tornadoes roared through Alabama and Georgia.